A tooth extraction can be performed in our Westwood dental office in a matter of minutes. While the recovery process varies from person to person, most people who have simple tooth extractions at Westwood Village Smiles report immediate relief from symptoms and minimal pain over the following three or four recovery days.
Modern technology has brought dentistry to a new level and simple tooth extractions today are relatively painless, come with few risks or side effects, and can be accomplished in one easy visit.
Often, we’re able to repair damaged teeth without having to remove them. Common practices like fillings, crowns, and root canals can help people retain a significant portion of their natural tooth and alleviate any pain, swelling, or discomfort they may be experiencing. However, at times it may be necessary to have a tooth (or teeth) removed if beyond repair. In this case, a simple tooth extraction is often recommended.
Reasons for Tooth Extractions
There are numerous situations in which a simple extraction can help alleviate pain or prepare you for additional cosmetic or restorative procedures. While the reasons a person may need a tooth extraction are as varied as the individual, some common ones are:
- Advanced periodontal disease (which causes loosening of tooth roots)
- Extra teeth or baby teeth that fail to fall out on their own and are impeding healthy adult teeth
- Remove broken or deformed teeth
- Rectifying severe tooth decay (cavities) that have gone beyond the point of root canal therapy
How is a tooth extracted?
Preparing for a Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction is a multi-stage procedure—all of which can be accomplished in under an hour at our Westwood dentist office. The four stages of an extraction are:
1) Accurate Dental Imaging
The first step in a tooth extraction in our Westwood dental office is to get an accurate picture of what’s going on below the gum line. This necessitates taking an X-Ray image of the area in question. This image will help your dentist see exactly what the root structure of your tooth looks like and spot potential hazards which may complicate a simple tooth extraction.
Keep in mind, even if you’ve already had an X-Ray at another dentist or sometime in the recent past, that image may be outdated and a new X-Ray necessary.
Thankfully, our Westwood dental studio is equipped with low-radiation X-Ray equipment which minimizes your exposure to radiation. In fact, our imaging system delivers less radiation than you get from simply spending a few hours in the bright California sun.
2) Pain Control
Usually, simple tooth extractions can be handled with minimal pharmaceutical intervention. Most patients respond extremely well to traditional Novocain and can tolerate simple tooth extractions without more aggressive treatments.
Novocain application starts with the dentist applying a bit of numbing gel to the gum line (usually right near the tooth to be extracted and then again at the “hinge” in the jaw where nerves travel through the bone. This minimizes the pain from the actual injection.
The injection is next and takes just a few seconds. Many patients will experience a pinching sensation and then perhaps some pressure as the pain control drugs are introduced.
A few minutes later, individual’s usually report that one half of their mouths are suitably “numb” and the simple tooth extraction can proceed without delay. Some patients may require additional dosing with Novocain to completely numb the area or prefer sedation dentistry. Westwood Village Smiles is fully equipped for either option and will do all we can to make you comfortable.
3) The Extraction Process
Next, your Westwood dentist will use a tool called an elevator to lift the tooth and loosen surrounding gum tissue. This process may result in pressure and uncomfortable noises but should not generate more pain than an individual can bear.
Finally, the dentist will use a pair of forceps (which look like small pliers) to gently rock the tooth back and forth until it breaks free. It’s then simply pulled out of the socket and the extraction process is essentially over.
Occasionally, a stubborn tooth requires a more complex procedure in which the dentist must actually break the tooth into smaller pieces for removal. Again, this should not generate any pain though many patients find this a bit uncomfortable.
4) Post-Extraction Care
If you are planning on having the extracted tooth replaced by a dental appliance, our Westwood dentists will explain to you the entire procedure before you begin. Depending on the type of appliance you choose, this may mean being fitted for a partial denture (which almost always takes place during a separate visit) or the implantation of an embedded dental appliance (which may or may not require a separate visit).
Many patients choose not to replace the extracted tooth if it’s not visible and won’t pose any future problems (such as tooth migration). In those cases, individuals are sent home within minutes of the extraction with a list of post-extraction instructions they must follow in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
Some tooth extractions in our Westwood dental office do require a few sutures (“stitches”) to close the socket in which the tooth rested. However, most simple tooth extractions will heal by themselves.
Instructions for Home Care After a Tooth Extraction
It’s important to:
- Discontinue smoking immediately after a tooth extraction
- Don’t use straws
- Stay away from carbonated beverages
- Eat only soft foods (no hard or sharp options like chips or crackers)
- Limit the use of pain medications to those prescribed by your dentist
These steps are necessary because a healing socket forms a blood clot. That clot protects the socket and keeps it moist until tissue is able to regrow. That’s essential because if you damage the clot (through eating hard foods or drinking carbonated beverages) or disturb the clot (through “sucking” actions) you could develop a painful condition called a “dry socket.”
While dry sockets can be treated, really the only long-term treatment is to allow the socket to heal by itself. Dry sockets can remain painful for days or even a week or two after a tooth extraction so it’s in your best interest to follow your dentist’s instruction to the letter.
Conditions Which May Complicate Simple Tooth Extractions
While Westwood Village Smiles is equipped to quickly and easily handle simple tooth extractions, there may be a number of circumstances which could potentially complicate these procedures. Some common conditions which may complicate simple tooth extractions include:
- Illness prior to your dentist appointment (if you are sick a week prior to your extraction, please call us)
- Abnormal root structure
- Cracked or broken teeth (usually below the gum line)
- Proximity to the sinus cavity (upper teeth only)
- Strength of the jaw bone itself (lower teeth only)
While none of these conditions in themselves will prevent tooth extraction, they may necessitate your dentist use alternative methods or extra care when performing a simple tooth extraction.
Paying for a Tooth Extraction
Usually, simple tooth extractions aren’t all that costly. An average bill is normally under $300. But each individual case will vary. Many dental insurance plans will cover simple tooth extractions (usually with a co-pay) as a standard dental procedure. If your insurance doesn’t cover extraction (or you don’t have insurance) Westwood Village Smiles accepts payments in the form of cash and credit card transactions. You can even finance your extraction using the CareCredit program.
Questions About A Tooth Extraction?
If you have any questions about whether you need a tooth extraction or about the procedure itself, contact us any time. One of our helpful office staff will be able to explain everything to you or put you in touch with a dentist who can answer any of your questions.